1st MIBARS In Vietnam!

Out and About In Vietnam II

Other Places Along the Way

Photo: Hong Kong harbor in 1967

Photo Credit: MIV

Hong Kong Harbor -- On R & R!  One week of Rest and Rehabilitation Leave (or "R and R," in GI terminology) could be chosen by troopers in the then British Crown Colony of Hong Kong, one of several destinations that included Malaysia, Bangkok, and Honolulu.  On this trip, lodging was taken at the Peninsula Hotel, the scene two days after arrival of some sort of demonstration and a loud explosion out in front of the building.  The Hong Kong police arrived promptly, immaculately dressed in seemingly tailored khaki shorts and short-sleeve shirts, wearing smart black visor caps and knee socks, carrying wicker shields and substantial truncheons.  They formed up and marched into the crowd in perfect order, scattering the demonstrators in seconds.  One really had to be impressed!  The custom-made Hong Kong suit produced in two days by the tailor shop in the hotel, fabric and style selected while seated in a leather easy chair, puffing on a good cigar (complimentary) and sipping American bourbon whiskey (also complimentary), lasted for many, many years, and the lining never did fall out -- contrary to a rumor circulated by stateside clothiers who attempted to compete by taking measurements in, and delivering custom-made men's civilian attire to, Vietnam's military Post Exchanges.

The Prisoner of War (POW) Complex at Marble Mountain

Photo: A prisoner of war complex run by allied forces near Marble Mountain Airbase in 1967

Photo Credit: MIV

Three Hots and a Cot

"Directly to our south, army Special Forces built a camp right off the end of our Runway 18 departure.  Below their camp and at the very base of Marble Mountain a POW camp was constructed.

The next day, as I climbed out from Runway 18 at Marble Mountain Airfield, I rapidly passed over new installations next to our base . . . toward the mountain called Marble Mountain was a prisoner of war camp.  . . . I glanced down at these POWs.  They were mostly North Vietnamese.  . . . The POWs looked like they had a pretty good deal down there walking around their wired-in cantonment, rather than living in the bush and getting shot at."

Bob Stoffey, Cleared Hot!: The Diary of a Marine Combat Pilot In Vietnam, St. Martin's Press, 1992.

Marble Mountain Air Base

This photograph shows "B" Detachment's Delivery Platoon U6A deHavilland Beaver aircraft -- Good Guy 182 -- with a "B" Detachment observer, parked on perforated steel planking ( PSP) at its assigned tie-down space on the Marble Mountain Air Base in 1967.  The view shows the extent of the PSP, which was laid over acres of bulldozed and leveled ground to provide a sturdy base for aircraft and service vehicles.  In the background can be seen groups of 55-gallon steel drums, some stacked in two layers, either empty to receive fluids drained from aircraft engines, or holding fresh lubricants and solvents for the use of aircraft servicing ground crews.  Aviation gas was generally dispensed from trucks.  These stores were known collectively in U.S. Army terminology as POL -- for petroleum, oil and lubricants.  In other instances, stacks of these drums -- now filled with sand -- were used to form three-sided revetments to protect parked aircraft from aerial or ground attack.   

Photo: Aerial observer-photographer with "B" Detachment's Good Guy 182 aircraft at Marble Mountain Air Base in 1967

Photo Credit: MIV

One War-Weary Beaver

Photo: A wrecked U6A deHavilland Beaver cannibalized for usable parts on the apron at Marble Mountain Air Base

Photo: Bob Crowell, "B" Detachment, Delivery Platoon, 1966-1968.

This aircraft is not Good Guy 182, and what originally befell it is not known.  However, it is a U.S. Army bird, it is sitting temporarily abandoned on the PSP surface at Marble Mountain Air Base in 1968 and, missing wings, undercarriage, doors, seats and undoubtedly many other components, it has been cannibalized to provide serviceable replacement parts for other needy Beavers.  Symbolic of the way that soldiers carry on in time of war, another U6A is seen taking off on a mission in the background.

Good Art Survives Over the Years

 Photo: Damaged statue in DaNang's Cham Museum in 1967

Photo Credit:  MIV

 Photo: Damaged statue in DaNang's Cham Museum 2006

Photo Credit: Kham 75 Collection, May 2, 2006, FlickR

 Photo: Cham Museum in DaNang undergoing renovation in 1967

Photo Credit: MIV

Above, Left:  A damaged statue in a deserted building that we now know is the Museum of Cham Sculpture in DaNang.  The photo was taken in 1967 when the museum was undergoing repair -- the walls had been scraped and patched, and the floors were littered with masonry waste.  The photo Above, Right, found of the World Wide Web 39 years later, shows what is apparently the same statue in a refurbished Cham Museum in contemporary times.  Left: A wider view of the interior of the museum from 1967 showing the extent of the repair and renovation work.

The Helgoland - Alternative Health Care in Wartime DaNang

Photo: Aerial view of the Song Han River in DaNang showing the docked German Hospital Ship Helgoland

Photo Credit: Gene Zwarycz, "B" Detachment, Imagery Interpretation Section, 1968-1970

Left:  Docked in DaNang -- A German civilian hospital ship, the Helgoland, is shown, at center, docked on the Han River near one of the main north-south streets in the City of DaNang.  The Helgoland is to the left of what appears to be a US Navy LST ship docked perpendicular at a small beach landing with front cargo doors open for off-loading.  Hospital ships were often moored in DaNang between 1967 and 1969, the two primary American ones being the USS Repose and its sister ship, the USS Sanctuary.

Those Who Were There Remember Helgoland . . .

Comment by: "Doc" Davison on Jan 8, 2008:  I was onboard the Helgoland in 1969.  Just as a visitor.  Was a beautiful ship. Was told not to visit in U.S. Uniform as it treated everyone, VC and NVA included.

Posted by Thomas Leidenberger in 2007:  Da Nang - German Red Cross ship "Helgoland."  Those who had been around the Da Nang area had probably seen this Red Cross ship cruising the Da Nang River.  Picture had been taken around the Da Nang "Grand Hotel" area by the river, our usual [place to] stay in Da Nang in 1969.

Comment by: Eric on Oct 21, 2006:  [The] Hospital Ship Helgoland from Hamburg Germany . . . . was in Da Nang Harbor in 1969.  It was there to provide free care to anyone that needed it. The ship was shut down because it was treating the VC and NVA wounded.  Like they thought all those multiple gunshots wounds were normal.

From: The Marine Helicopter Association Web Site, www (dot) popasmoke (dot) com.
. . . and the Eventual Healthcare Reform

"The German hospital ship Helgoland was moored alternately in Saigon and DaNang to fly the flag of the German Red Cross. Helgoland was eventually replaced by a land-based German clinic in An Hoa, Central Vietnam. Viet Cong later captured most of the clinic’s doctors and nurses, took them on a death march to North Vietnam, and ultimately killed them.  Many West German aid workers of faith-based and other non-governmental organizations appeared during the Vietnam conflict.  Bonn funded the groups, but religious and/or other ethical commitments directed them toward often dangerous goals. The murdered doctors and nurses were employees of the German branch of the Knights of Malta, a lay order of Catholic nobility."

From:  US Navy Hospital Ship USS Sanctuary (AH-17), at www (dot) Seastory (dot) us.

Indigenous Peoples

Photo: Aerial view of Vietnamese people at a river near Kam Duc

Photo Credit: Gene Zwarycz

Photo: Aerial view of Vietnames homes on stilts near Ha Tan

Photo Credit: Gene Zwarycz

Above, Left:  Photographed from a U.S. Army O-1 observation aircraft, Montagnard tribespeople are seen in a river near US Army Special Forces Camp 109, at Kam Duc.  Above, Right: A Montagnard village next to the Special Forces Camp at Ha Tan.

The "Yards" . . . 
The Montagnards

"The Degar, referred to by French colonists as Montagnard, are the indigenous peoples of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The term Montagnard means "mountain people" in French and is a carryover from the French colonial period in Vietnam. Montagnard was the term, typically shortened to "Yard", used by U.S. Military personnel in the Central Highlands during the Vietnam War. However the term has been viewed as derogatory and the official term is now [a literal term meaning ‘minority people’].

The 1960s saw contact between the Degar and the U.S. military, as American involvement in the Vietnam War escalated and the Central Highlands emerged as a strategically important area, in large part because it included the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the North Vietnamese supply line for Viet Cong forces in the south. The U.S. military, particularly the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, developed base camps in the area and recruited the Degar, roughly 40,000 of whom fought alongside American soldiers and became a major part of the U.S. military effort in the Highlands.

Thousands of Degar fled to Cambodia after the fall of Saigon . . . fearing that the new government would launch reprisals against them because they had aided the U.S. Army. The U.S. military resettled some Degar in the United States, primarily in South Carolina, but these evacuees numbered less than two thousand. . . . Outside of Vietnam, the largest community of Montagnards in the world is located in Greensboro, North Carolina."

From: En.wikipedia (dot) org
. . . and the "Ruff Puffs"
The Regional and Popular Forces

"During the Vietnam War, the South Vietnamese Regional Forces were roughly akin to militias. Recruited locally, they fell into two broad groups - Regional Forces and Popular Forces (i.e., the RFs and PFs -- called Ruffs and Puffs by American forces).

During the early 1960's the Regional Forces manned the country-wide outpost system and defended critical points, such as bridges and ferries. There were some 9,000 such positions, half of them in the Mekong Delta region. In 1964, the Regional Forces were integrated into the  Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and placed under the command of the Joint General Staff.

When U.S. forces began to withdraw from South Vietnam during 1969 and the ARVN began the task of fighting the communist main force units, Regional forces took on a new importance. For the first time, they were deployed outside their home areas and were sometimes attached to ARVN units. By 1973 the Regional Forces had grown to 1,810 companies. Charged primarily with local defense, they were too lightly armed and equipped to withstand attack by regular People’s Army of Vietnam units supported by tanks and artillery."

From: En.wikipedia (dot) org

Feeling Bullish!

Photo: Water buffalo roam the streets in 1967 DaNang

Photo Credit: MIV

Left:  Seemingly ready to square off, two water buffalo being herded by Vietnamese children along Quang Trung Street are nose-to-nose, just outside of the front-yard fence of the Officers' Villa.  The young herder is wearing shorts and carries a traditional conical hat in one hand.  Given the sharpness and  roughness of the hair on water buffalo hide, people did not often risk their tender regions by riding them in shorts -- at least according to an expatriate Vietnamese barber in a Virginia shop some forty years after this picture was taken.  This photo shows that at least five buffalo in the group, all no doubt merrily defecating along the street as they made their way through this essentially downtown area, contributing to the pungent odor that permeated most of the city of DaNang.

Faces Through A Wall

Recollections of the People and the Times

Out and About In Vietnam I

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